Is the Chase Sapphire Reserve Annual Fee Worth Paying Over the Preferred?

The Chase Sapphire Reserve – Can’t ignore the talk of the town. Like I tell all my friends & coworkers, if any major bank is offering a signup bonus of 100,000 points, I’m 99% getting it. It’s a no brainer. Even at a high $450 annual fee (which is really just $150 after a $300 travel credit), the bonus is still worth it. I’ve paid more for points.

The next question you should ask is if the Reserve is worth keeping over the Preferred (which you should be a mainstay in your wallet). That’s why I quickly created a Google Doc that answers that for you.

Link: Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Preferred Calculator

Instructions are simple:

  • Download as Excel or make a copy to your own Google Drive
  • Enter how much you spend per month for each of the cards’ bonus categories – travel & dining
  • Results update on lines 10 & 11 and are based on an entire year of spending

Obviously, this is based on points earning alone. There are other benefits associated with the card that may be of value to you that you should also consider.

Hopefully, this is a quick and dirty way to determine if you’re going to downgrade your Preferred to a regular Sapphire (or perhaps a Freedom Unlimited) or keep it and cancel the Reserve next year.

Last Few Days to Earn 10x Points at Amazon & More via Chase Freedom

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Chase Freedom 10% Amazon

Just a reminder that if you’ve activated this offer from Chase, there are only a few more days to spend up to $1,500 at Amazon, Zappos, Audible & Diapers.com and get 10 Ultimate Rewards per dollar spent.

Since I do too much shopping at Amazon and I still have some room until I get to $1,500 spent, I’m going to end up buying some Amazon gift cards for myself to use at a later time. This way I’ll earn the 10x UR points on the shopping I’m eventually going to do on Amazon in the future.

Also, as a note, Amazon Home Services will count as spend towards that bonus since the charge appears just like any other Amazon purchase on your credit card. I’ve tested this a few months ago and the charge did, in fact, receive the quarterly bonus points. Great way to hire a contractor and pay via Amazon.com. A bonus is that you get the customer service/protection of Amazon so if anything goes wrong, Amazon will go the extra mile to make sure you are happy.

Q1 2016 Bonus

As a reminder, next quarter’s bonuses are as follows:

  • Gas stations
  • Local commuter transportation
    • Excludes tolls, parking, and more

If you have access to gas stations where you can buy gift cards, you should be in the clear to spend up to the $1,500 fairly easily. If not, time to get creative!

Q3 Rotating Bonuses – Chase Freedom & Discover IT

New quarter, new bonuses! These bonuses will run through September 30, 2015.

Chase Freedom

Activate here. Most gas stations have gift card racks so this should be an easy $1,500 to spend this quarter.

  • Gas stations
  • Kohl’s

Discover IT

Activate here. This is a very easy one to max out ($1,500 also). Combined with enrolling in the double cash back offer for a year, the Discover IT card will get some serious burn for me going forward. Look at Sears in the Discover Deals portal to compound the bonus.

  • Home improvement stores
  • Department stores*
  • Amazon.com

 

Last Chance at Chase Freedom Q1 Categories

As we come up on the end of March, we also come to the end of the first quarter of 2015. With that comes the end of the Chase Freedom 5% bonus categories – grocery stores, movie theaters & Starbucks. Be sure to get all your Q1 spend in by March 31!

In case you’re having trouble maximing all $1,500 of allowable spend, consider buying gift cards at any of the categories. If you’re a Starbucks drinker, then I wish you better coffee in your life buy enough Starbucks gift cards to last you the year. If you go out to a lot of movies (or perhaps give movie gift cards as gifts), get a few of those.

Grocery stores present the biggest opportunity with their extensive gift card selection.

Grocery stores carry several different gift cards

Grocery stores carry several different gift cards

From Visa or American Express gift cards to Starbucks, Bass Pro Shops, iTunes, Southwest Airlines; grocery stores are an easy way to rack up spend as this quarter’s Freedom bonus categories fade.

New Quarter, New Bonuses

Q2, which begins April 1st, is another easy quarter for me – restaurants, Bed Bath & Beyond, H&M, and Overstock.com.

I don’t think there is a need to discuss much strategy for Q2. I’m sure I’ll be getting together for dinner with friends, fronting the bill, and then having them pay me back through PayPayl or Venmo. As for the 3 retailers, there’s always time to go shopping and I believe there is a gift card rack at BB&B.

It should be another easy quarter of racking up those Chase Ultimate Rewards points!

Chase Freedom 2015 Bonus Categories Announced

While we’re all busy trying to hit the $1,500 in spend for this quarter’s bonus categories, Chase has announced all the bonus categories for 2015.

Chase Freedom 2015 Bonus Categories

January – March

  • Grocery stores
  • Movie theaters
  • Starbucks

April – June

  • Restaurants
  • Bed Bath & Beyond
  • H&M
  • Overstock.com

July – September

  • Gas stations
  • “And more!”

October – December

  • Amazon.com
  • “And more!”

No surprises in any month. You’ll likely see Kohl’s in Q3 and Zappos & other department stores in Q4.

Activation for Q1 2015 will open December 15, 2014.

So there are not any groundbreaking opportunities for any serious manufactured spend or reselling, but I take this as good news. Chase hasn’t taken any bonus categories away next year.

These categories are always a nice way to rack up an extra 6,000 Ultimate Rewards points each quarter and with a $0 annual fee card like the Chase Freedom, I can’t complain. If you don’t have one (why not?!), the sign up bonus is 20,000 points after spending $500 in the first 3 months from account opening, which is double the normal offer. Sign up here at chase.com/freedom.